Hoo boy. This...this is just....well it's not good.
On Wednesday morning, the NCAA president, Mark Emmert, released information regarding their enforcement staff and how they handled the Miami investigation. However, the news was aimed at themselves rather than at Coral Gables:
The NCAA national office has uncovered an issue of improper conduct within its enforcement program that occurred during the University of Miami investigation. Former NCAA enforcement staff members worked with the criminal defense attorney for Nevin Shapiro to improperly obtain information for the purposes of the NCAA investigation through a bankruptcy proceeding that did not involve the NCAA.
As it does not have subpoena power, the NCAA does not have the authority to compel testimony through procedures outside of its enforcement program. Through bankruptcy proceedings, enforcement staff gained information for the investigation that would not have been accessible otherwise.
Basically, people that were involved in the Miami investigation went outside of their jurisdiction to gather potentially damning information in order to help their side of the investigation. This is HUGE news for Miami. At face value, one would think that once the NCAA reviews what improprieties occurred, any information obtained "illegally" would have to be thrown away.
You know those scenes in Law & Order where the judge orders statements stricken from the record because they were out of bounds? Yeah. THAT.
If the NCAA decides that the information can be kept as part of the investigation, you would assume that the school would have the leverage to argue it was gained illegally, and should not be considered as fact by the Committee On Infractions. If this happens, it can only mean good things for the possible penalties levied against Miami.
This new announcement has the feel to it that the NCAA is more or less acknowledging the fact that while Charles Robinson dug up a whole bunch of stuff on Miami, the NCAA could not prove quite a bit of it through the normal, allowable channels. The effect of this is more delays for Miami:
As it relates to the Miami investigation, the NCAA will not move forward with a Notice of Allegations until all the facts surrounding this issue are known.
"Upon receipt of Mr. Wainstein’s findings, I will take further steps as needed to assure accountability for any improper conduct,” Emmert said.
More waiting. More dealing with other coaches trying to lure recruits away by dangling the sanctions above their heads. Except...now, Golden and Miami can come back with more ammo than before.
The craziest part of all this? On some level, we have to acknowledge that Uncle Luke was right. This appears to have, at least in part, turned into a witch hunt..
UPDATES: It turns out that the NCAA actually paid an attorney to take part in the Shapiro bankruptcy case in order to gain information. This is nowhere near their scope, and would essentially invalidate any information gained from that attorney.
Mark Emmert confirmed that anything found to be gained from the illegal processes would be thrown out. He also stated that there would be no further investigation into Miami, that they would throw out anything they needed to and move forward with what they had.
He also stated that the NCAA had, in fact, given an overview to people and schools named in the investigation in the last few days, which confirms the reports about Hurtt, Haith, and Hill. However, it is not clear just how much of that info was illegally gained.
President Donna Shalala released the following statement in response to Mark Emmert's conference call:
“Since the University first alerted the NCAA to the possibility of violations more than two years ago, we have been cooperative and compliant with the NCAA and, I believe, a model for how institutions should partner with NCAA staff during investigations. In addition to encouraging current and former staff members and student-athletes to cooperate with investigators, we have provided thousands of documents to the enforcement staff.
I am frustrated, disappointed and concerned by President Emmert’s announcement today that the integrity of the investigation may have been compromised by the NCAA staff.
As we have done since the beginning, we will continue to work with the NCAA and now with their outside investigator hoping for a swift resolution of the investigation and our case.
I want to thank our community for their continued support and patience.
Stand with the U.”
Emmert hopes to have the external investigation wrapped up in "7-10" days, although it could take longer, and once that is completed, Miami will be given its NOA.